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Downtown Indy leader cites changes since riots; FOP continues to review report critical of IMPD

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An independent review panel has released its report analyzing Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s response to the local riots after the deaths of George Floyd and Dreasjon Reed.

The report’s conclusions were not shocking to many who were downtown during those events and whose businesses were destroyed. While they do not disagree with the report, some stakeholders downtown think a lot has changed since the May 29-June 1 riots. They now hope change continues so that the next time tensions are high during a protest, the outcome can be much different.

The report says a repeated lack of guidance, communication and planning from police and the mayor allowed downtown Indianapolis to be engulfed in flames and violent behavior during protests last spring.

“What took place last May no one — and I have lived my entire life promoting this city — no one ever imagined. And, what we are hearing is that the police department didn’t imagine it quite as well either,” said Bob Schultz, vice president of marketing and communications with Downtown Indy Inc., a nonprofit that looks out for the central business district’s best interests.

Schultz says he appreciates the mayor and IMPD recognizing that a lot of change needed to be made. “There are some long-term memories of the business revenue loss, that boarded-up feeling, and then the absence of people because of concern and fright.”

He thinks much has changed since those events.

Meanwhile, Rick Snyder with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 86 said Friday he was not sharing his thoughts on the report yet. “Our organization is now reviewing the report to better understand its contents and the perspectives that were included (and not included),” he said in a statement to News 8.

Because of the damage left behind from the riots, businesses downtown were hesitant during the tense 2020 election season that saw many protests downtown.

“When you get burned you are more sensitive around that heat source going forward,” Schultz said.

Statement

“During the weekend of May 29 through June 1, 2020, Indianapolis experienced one of the most significant events in the city’s history. As the murder of George Floyd led to sadness, anger, and turmoil across the country, Indianapolis witnessed unprecedented mass protests in support of racial justice. However, in this same moment, as emotions rose and tensions climbed, Indianapolis also experienced instances of rioting, looting, and violence. In the days following, it was clear we needed to understand more about the factors that contributed to such an event, about the response of law enforcement to the crisis, and about what Indianapolis could do different and better in the future. As a result, on June 22, 2020, I called for an independent review to ‘look at evidence relating to the law enforcement response over the timeframe, evaluating officer adherence to departmental policies and providing recommendations on future police action.’

Today, the panel’s released report does just that. I want to thank the members of the review committee for their work, skill, and expertise in producing this report. The report is thorough, critical, and offers a series of recommendations rooted in best practices that offer our City and IMPD a roadmap moving forward.

Since those days in late May and early June, IMPD has made a series of substantial changes, including reforms to IMPD’s Use of Force policy, the creation of a Use of Force Review Board, civilian additions to the General Orders Board, and operational changes to the department’s response to large-scale gatherings. These adjustments have been consequential, and Indianapolis has seen over 150 protests without similar incident since June 1. However, our work will not stop. IMPD will continue to adapt and improve its policies and practices to best serve the needs of Indianapolis, leading through transparency and community-led, community-engaged policing. We value the conclusions made by this report, respect the tremendous amount of work that went into this important document, and will work to implement the recommendations.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett

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